We’re going to preface this by saying that toners are a nice addition to your skincare routine, but not a must have by any means. (Though we’re guessing that if you’re reading this, you’re looking for some recommendations, which we can definitely help you with.)
Before we get to shopping, we just want to note that if you’re in the market for a toner and you have sensitive skin, there is one ingredient to look out for and avoid at all costs: alcohol. All forms of it. As Rachel E. Maiman, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York explained to us earlier this year, “Alcohol can strip the skin of the natural lipids it needs to support the barrier, which is one of the skin's main immune functions,” making it public enemy number one for those of us with easily irritated skin.
It’s also quite sneaky. ”Alcohols can appear in ingredient lists with any number of names, which can make it hard to recognize. Look for words like ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol,” says Maiman.
Another common culprit for sensitive skin is fragrance, though this can vary a bit by person, so our recommendations below include both fragrance-free and lightly fragranced options. And if you’re apprehensive about introducing anything new to your routine, always do a patch test behind your ear before committing to the whole face.